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The journal Traverse: Zeitschrift für Geschichte has just published a special issue on the topic of Temporal Experiences: Acceleration and Plural Temporalities (Zeiterfahrungen: Beschleunigung und plurale Temporalitäten). The table of contents may be found here.

In it, I have published a contribution on the concept of acceleration under the title:

Beschleunigung im langen 19. Jahrhundert: Einheit und Vielfalt einer Epochenkategorie

[Acceleration in the Long 19th Century: Unity and Plurality of a Temporal Category]

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The essay starts by contrasting the influential theories of acceleration formulated by Reinhart Koselleck and Hartmut Rosa. On this basis, it argues for a new approach to the history of acceleration based in the methodical tradition of Historical Semantics.

From this point of view, the usual interpretation of acceleration as the distinguishing and dominant temporal mode of the modern era is left behind in favor of a more empirical approach. Taking German debates on the topic during the 19th century as a case study, the article shows how acceleration was not a singular phenomenon (defining the modern era) at all. Rather, it could have many different meanings according to the perspective and interests of various groups as well as the changing historical contexts. In this manner, the article argues for a differentiated focus on the ways in which ‘modern’ people interpreted their own temporality instead of the sweeping, but ultimately oversimplified identification of modernity as the ‘era of acceleration’.

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The proceedings of a conference I attended two years ago in Heidelberg have been published as volume 18 in the series Schriften zur politischen Kultur der Weimarer Republik by Peter Lang.

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My own contribution, titled

Eine “Klage, die so alt ist, als die Geschichte”? Dimensionen des Wandels im Diskurs der modernen Kulturkritik

(A “Complaint as old as History itself”? Dimensions of Change in the Discourse of Modern Cultural Criticism)

develops an analytical model to describe four dimensions of change in the modern discourse of cultural criticism since the late eighteenth century.

Click here for the volume’s contents, a short introductory text, part of the introduction and the publisher’s page.

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An article I wrote for the Contributions to the History of Concepts has been published in volume 9, number 1 of this journal.

The article traces the uses of the concept of zeitgeist in early nineteenth-century European political discourse. To explain the concept’s explosive takeoff in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, two perspectives are combined. On the one hand, the concept is shown to be a key element in the new, “temporalized” discourses of cultural reflection emerging during this time. On the other, its pragmatic value as a linguistic tool in concrete political constellations is outlined on the basis of case studies from French, British and German political discourse. Developing this two-sided perspective, the article sheds light on an important aspect of early nineteenth-century political discourse while also pointing to some general considerations concering the relationship between semantic and pragmatic analyses of historical language use.

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A short article I wrote about luxury debates at the end of the eighteenth century has been published in the Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie.

Luxus und Sozialordnung. Kulturelle Selbstbestimmung und die Grenzen des Konsums am Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts, in: Zeitschrift für Kulturphilosophie 7, Nr. 1 (2013), S. 199-203.

In essence, the article  provides a commentary on and contextualization of a text published in 1776 by Lorenz Hübner (1751-1807) titled Abhandlung von dem Luxus, oder schädlichem Prachte, which is also reprinted in the Zeitschrift. Hübners text – originally a speech in honor of the bavarian elector Maximilian III. Joseph – provides an interesting insight into the history and development of eighteenth century luxury debates. books

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An article I wrote about the concept of the ‘spirit of the age’ in the long Eighteenth Century has been published in the volume Frühe Neue Zeiten, edited by Prof. Dr. Achim Landwehr.

Zeitgeist im langen 18. Jahrhundert. Dimensionen eines umstrittenen Begriffs, in: Achim Landwehr (Hg.): Frühe Neue Zeiten. Zeitwissen zwischen Reformation und Revolution (= Mainzer Historische Kulturwissenschaften 11), Bielefeld: transcript 2012, S. 319–355.

In my article, I trace the meanings and usages of the concept of zeitgeist in its various forms (esprit du siècle, Geist der Zeit, spirit of the age, etc.) across a number of contexts in France, England and the German lands. The concept is shown to be at the center of the temporalization of discourses about contemporary culture and its historical development during the Eighteenth Century. A special focus of the article lies on the complicated relation between the unstressed usages of the concept on the one hand and the explicit, metalinguistic discussion about it on the other. Because of its controversial and elusive nature, the concept of the spirit of the age was at the center of heated debates about its cognitive and metaphysical legitimacy and its pragmatic usefulness. How did such debates influence its use in other contexts?

To read the Achim Landwehr’s introduction to the volume, click here.

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After a long publishing process, an article I wrote in 2010 has now been published in Moderne: Kulturwissenschaftliches Jahrbuch. In it, I survey the analytical strengths and weaknesses of Reinhart Koselleck’s theorem of temporalization for empirical research in the humanities. Considering it’s origins in modernization theory and giving it’s various critics due attention, I argue that the concept – in an updated, more pluralized form – may still be fruitfully applied in historiographical research.

The volume may be purchased here.

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An article I wrote about the construction of the authorial identity in the eighteenth century was published in the issue »Beyond Biography« of the Journal InterDisciplines. It originates from a workshop on the »Semantics of (Self)Construction. (Auto-)Biography in Sociology and History in the 19th and 20th centuries«, held in Bielefeld (Germany) in January 2010.

Jung, Theo, „The writing self. Rousseau and the author’s identity“ InterDisciplines 1, Nr. 2 (2010) 91–121.

Abstract

In 1749, while on the road to Vincennes to visit his friend Diderot in prison, Rousseau had an inspirational experience that prove to be a deciding moment in his life story. In his many autobiographical writings, he would time and again interpret this event as the seminal point of his identity as a writer. Taking the conflicting contemporary interpretations of the Vincennes episode as a starting point, this article asks in what way modern, post-subjectivist theories of the self can enrich our understanding of historical events, while at the same time providing answers to wider questions concerning the ways in which historically changing and contextually specific forms of what it means to be a self are constructed, intepreted, articulated and ›put into practice‹. To this end, Rousseau’s ›illumination‹ and its subsequent interpretations are interpreted in the light of contemporary controversies over the identity of the writer that developed against the background of fundamental changes in the social and economic structure of the literary field.

To the article.

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